For the Love of Dry-Hopping
If you’re like me, the first thing you do when trying is a new beer is dive right in nose to embrace the aromatics. That might sound pretty standard for hop-heads like myself, but I truly believe the aroma of a beer is what really drives home a fresh and exciting experience when trying new products.
With the IPA being one of the most purchased style of beer across the U.S, it is particularly challenging to catch people off guard anymore. Foundational IPAs like Bell’s Two-Hearted or Dogfish Head’s 60, 90, and 120 Minute IPAs are what sets the standard for new hop-forward beers because they exemplify what makes a balanced product exciting. New IPAs in the market are geared toward massive flavor and aroma with minimal bitterness such that of a New England IPA and even more so for Brut IPAs. These new styles that have been making waves across the U. S., imparting aggressive hopping methods like hop-bursting and dry-hopping because they add a unique characteristic of robust flavor and aroma with no bitterness. At Center Ice, we like to dry-hop our beers with a liberal dosage of hops at different stages of conditioning and fermentation. For instance, our Beauty Brut IPA is dry-hopped twice to integrate a huge aromatic kick to compliment the orange zest. Many people have asked what “dry-hopping” is, so I’m going to lay it out for you in the coming paragraphs.
Dry-hopping is a technique that includes introducing hops during fermentation and/or conditioning to build a unique aromatic profile that compliments the balance of flavor, aroma, and appearance. During this process, the beer is absorbing even more of the essential oils from the hops and continue to evolve the product based on the characteristics of the hops that are chosen. Although this process is geared primarily towards the aromatic aspect of the beer, there are some flavor attributions involved with this technique, which is why it tends to be focused on IPAs. This is mainly used on very hop driven beers, but can technically be used on any style to build in a hoppy characteristic if you deem necessary, hence why it’s my personal favorite technique to experiment with. This has become even more popular due to the fact that the market is slowly shying away from very old-school bitter IPAs and trending more toward minimal bitterness with more emphasis on the flavor and aromatics. In order to impart bitterness into a beer, the acids in the hops must be boiled, which means that dry-hopping imparts no bitterness to the finished product if it’s dry-hopped instead. In a nutshell, dry-hopping is a way to add that extra punch of excitement to a beer.
Some of my favorite examples of dry hopped beers in the St. Louis area include DDH Fallen Flag from Narrow Gauge, Loose Particles from 4 Hands, and Brewligans from 2nd Shift. Next time you checkout a local brewery’s beer menu, be on the lookout for some dry-hopped goodness.